9 Things To Do Before Starting University In The UK

For international students arriving in the UK, we know that this can often be a nervous and exciting time in your life. You must remember to enjoy the whole experience of moving to a new country and meeting new people, but it is also important that you fully prepare for life in the UK before arriving at your university campus.


So, in order to help the many international students that are due to arrive in the UK over the next few months, we have made a short list of 9 things that you definitely need to know before your first university semester begins.


1. Research


By speaking to other people who are currently studying abroad or who have recently graduated from university, you will be able to find out important information about student life in the UK.


Even if you are unable to talk to anyone who has studied abroad, we are able to provide pre-departure support and ‘settling in’ services for all our international students before they start university.


2. Arrange Accommodation


For most international and non-international students, the first couple of years at university are usually spent in accommodation provided by the university. This are often refereed to as ‘halls of residence’.


Most university accommodation is situated near to the main university campus and lecture theatres, as well as local facilities like shops and banks.


It is important that you begin to research your accommodation options as soon as possible. Some universities do guarantee accommodation for international students, but often require a deposit to be paid before you arrive.


We recommend contacting your specific university for more information.


3. Visa


A visa is required for all non-eu students who want to student in the UK. It is often refereed to as ‘Entry Clearance’ and is usually placed inside your passport or travel document.


The type of visa that you require often depends on the type of course that you’re going to be studying. Most students apply for a Tier 4 visa as their course is more than six months in length.


The earliest you can apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa is 3 months before the start of course. We highly recommend that you apply for your visa as soon as possible.


4. Open a Bank Account


Before arriving it’s very important that you look into opening a basic bank account in the UK. Not only will you be able to keep your money safe and pay bills, but it is also the most effective way of managing money whilst you study.


Most of the main UK banks will allow international students to open accounts with them, but you may need to apply online first then visit a branch near your university to confirm your details when you arrive.


If you’re expecting money to arrive from overseas you may need to ask about how long it takes and whether you will be charged for this. UKCISA do provide additional information for international students looking to open a bank account.


5. Extra Funding


Your university is also likely to offer a range of extra funding resources for their students. These are known as ‘Bursaries’, ‘Scholarships’ and ‘Grants’. As an international student you may be entitled to claim some additional financial support.


There are also additional bursaries for students who have been accepted on courses that lead to a professional registration with the National Health Service (NHS) or becoming a teacher.


You will need to speak to your university representative or check their website for more information when you arrive.


6. Enrol With Your University


For each year of your university course you will need to enrol online before the start of your first semester. Although it shouldn’t take too long, it is important that you find the time to complete the enrolment form.


Normally, intentional students are able to enrol online before they arrive but must then confirm their details with the university during their first few weeks.


7. What should I bring?


Thinking about what to bring with you when you first start university can often be confusing. Bedding, furniture, cooking and washing equipment will all be available for you to buy from shops near to your campus. Some shops even offer special discounts to students.


To help adjust to your new home, it’s also a good idea to take photographs, posters and books that are special to you. Don’t forget to pack some warm clothing  as the UK can often get quite cold in the winter and this may be different from your climate back at home. Jumpers, jackets and coats are also available to buy when you arrive in the UK.


8. What should I not bring?


It is very easy to become attached to certain household items and types of food back at home. We recommend that you do not bring any fresh food with you as this may be seized when you arrive in the UK. Also, many international students may not know which books they need for their course.


We suggest that you wait for your course to start before purchasing any books from your reading list. Most books are usually available to read in the university libraries.


9. Don’t forget your documents!


It is necessary that you pack all of the following items before coming to UK:


  • University information about enrollment and accommodation


    • Information from your doctor about any current medical conditions and prescribed medication.


    • Letter of acceptance


    • Visa and a valid passport


    • Documents required for setting up a UK bank account


    • Documents to confirm that you have enough money to support yourself


    • Certificates of your qualifications


    • IELTS/TOEFL documents


    • Tuition fees information


    • Travel and Health insurance


    • Your driving licence (if you have one)


For more information about preparing for university life in the UK, please contact one of our dedicated and experienced advisers who will be able to help you further.